A low pressure system deepened rapidly over the Atlantic just off the Carolina coast during the day on 01 April 2020. GOES-East water vapor imagery and RAP surface analysis provide a great visualization of the strengthening low as it progressed east away from the coast (Fig 1). Dry/warming descending air (warm colors) is evident wrapping around the low from the south, while ascending/cooling air (including deep moist convection) is obvious further east, north, and west of the low.
As the low strengthened, very gusty winds developed at the surface, prompting the issuance of a Hurricane Force Wind Warning by the NWS. HRRR model analyses indicate widespread wind gusts in excess of 50 knots wrapping around the southern and eastern portion of the low (Fig 2).
GOES-East low-level DMWs, while not abundant nearest the center of circulation where cloud streets developed and winds were likely strongest, did produce several wind vectors over 50 knots near the low center, indicating strong flow just above the surface.
METOP-B ASCAT observed surface winds in excess of 50 knots wrapping around the western portion of the low between 1500 and 1600 UTC (Fig 4a). Later between 1800 and 1900 UTC, AMSR2 measured surface wind speeds between 50-60 knots on the western portion of the low, and 40-50 knots wrapping around the southern quadrant, between 18-19 UTC (Fig 4b).
An area of clearing was present adjacent to deep moist convection near the low center during the morning hours after sunrise. GOES-East visible (0.64 um) imagery captured rough seas (white caps) and associated/implied sea spray under the clear skies, confirming gusty winds reaching the surface during that period (Fig 5). The white caps/sea spray is diagnosed by regions of higher reflectance compared to nearby calmer seas. A modified gray-scale colortable is utilized in order to best highlight the white cap/lofted sea spray signature.
A zoomed in feature following animation provides an alternative means for viewing the evolution of the white caps through the morning (Fig 6). The phenomenon is most prolific extending south and east from the region of thunderstorms in the center of the scene.
The longer wavelength 0.865 um imagery provides better contrast for detecting the white caps (compared to clear sky calmer seas) given less influence of atmospheric aerosols compared to at the shorter wavelengths (Fig 7). However, spatial resolution is degraded by 4x compared to the 0.64 um channel with ABI, reducing clarity of the feature.
The white caps can be diagnosed in the snow-cloud RGB as regions of bright blue (Fig 8).
Finally, the milky appearance of the white caps was easily apparent in the Geocolor (true color) imagery (Fig 9).
A longer feature following animation shows white caps and sea spray continued along the southern portion of the low center into the afternoon and early evening hours (Fig 10).
Bill Line, NESDIS and CIRA